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Update from the field: Drill Ranch

Time for some animal updates from Drill Ranch!

There was a recent birth of a drill baby to a very experienced mother who is taking excellent care of her newborn. According to Pandrillus co-founder Liza Gadsby, caretakers at Drill Ranch are very meticulous with their breeding records for the drills and chart the females’ cycles daily. This allows them to closely monitor the reproductive habits of the drills within their care and can accurately predict a birth within a three-day window. This is even more precise than most predictions for humans! Not only does this cycle tracking help predict births, but it is also an invaluable resource to help manage the global drill population.

Drill Ranch is renowned for its breeding efforts for drill monkeys, and every birth is a monumental success for the species as a whole. Understanding breeding behavior and how to accurately predict breeding and gestation longevity benefits zoos housing drills around the world, as well as those drills living in the wild. The more information we learn about a species, particularly through the observation of those under human care, the more insight we have into their overall behavior, which helps researchers and scientists understand how to best to conserve them.

On the flip side, there was a surprise birth of a different species! Drill Ranch specializes in drill care and conservation, but also houses a number of other animals from the region that are in need of rescue, rehabilitation and breeding assistance. One such species is the Sclater’s guenon, which is endemic to Nigeria and is listed as Vulnerable according the IUCN Red List. Drill Ranch is home to a group of 10 of these monkeys, and in fact, is the location of the only group of Sclater’s guenons in human care in the entire world! Because of this, every new birth is extremely valuable to the preservation of this species. And while the staff at Drill Ranch are experts at drill reproduction, it can much more difficult to predict births with the Sclater’s guenons. Braylee, the mother of the new infant, is showing strong mothering instincts and is very protective of her newborn, so much so that she is making it difficult for caretakers to even get a glimpse to determine the sex! Once this little one was born, caretakers made quick work to shuffle some of the other animals at Drill Ranch around in order to make room for Braylee to have some quiet bonding time with her infant. This includes giving her more secluded areas to rest and spend time with the baby, as well as providing extra food and vitamins to help in her recovery and transition into full-time motherhood.

Here in Atlanta, Georgia, we are no stranger to the frequent afternoon thunderstorms that pop up during the summer. Interestingly enough, Drill Ranch has been experiencing similar weather, and just like I mentioned in my last update, they are constantly working in some pretty intense conditions. All of this recent rainfall has definitely made it much harder for care staff to keep the animal areas clean and tidy, and no doubt! Wading through mud several feet deep would slow anyone down. However, these amazing staff members work tirelessly day in and day out to provide excellent living spaces for the drills and other species that live at Drill Ranch, and certainly deserve to know how very much their efforts are appreciated. Let’s hope they see a break in the rain soon and can look forward to sunny days in the future!
Jenny Ghents
Keeper II, Primates and Quarters for Conservation Champion, Drill Ranch

(photo by Liza Gadsby)

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